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Songs

Songs

Den grünen Zeigern (1851) Op. 117 no.3


Part of a series or song cycle:

Vier Husarenlieder von Nikolaus Lenau (Op. 117)


Den grünen Zeigern

Den grünen Zeigern,
Den roten Wangen,
Den lustigen Geigern
Bin ich nachgegangen
Von Schenk’ zu Schenk’,
Solang’ ich denk’.
Am Tschako jetzt trag’ ich
Die grünen Äste,
Rote Wangen, die schlag’ ich
Den Feinden aufs beste,
Kanonengebrumm
Musiziert herum.

Green wine-bushes

Green wine-bushes,
Red cheeks,
Happy fiddlers—
These have I followed
From inn to inn,
For as long as I can remember.
In my shako now I wear
The green branches,
I treat the foe
To red cheeks with a will,
The roar of the cannon
Makes music all around.
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

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Composer

Robert Schumann was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann's published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as KinderszenenAlbum für die JugendBlumenstück, the Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, Schumann married Friedrich Wieck's daughter Clara, against the wishes of her father, following a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career as a pianist, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father's fortune.

Schumann suffered from a lifelong mental disorder, first manifesting itself in 1833 as a severe melancholic depressive episode, which recurred several times alternating with phases of ‘exaltation’ and increasingly also delusional ideas of being poisoned or threatened with metallic items. After a suicide attempt in 1854, Schumann was admitted to amental asylum, at his own request, in Endenich near Bonn. Diagnosed with "psychotic melancholia", Schumann died two years later in 1856 without having recovered from his mental illness.

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Poet

Nikolaus Lenau was the nom de plume of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau, a German-language Austrian poet.

He was born at Schadat, now Lenauheim, Romania, then in Hungary. His father, a Habsburg government official, died in 1807 in Budapest, leaving his children in the care of their mother, who remarried in 1811. In 1819 Nikolaus went to the University of Vienna; he subsequently studied Hungarian law at Pozsony (Bratislava) and then spent the next four years qualifying himself in medicine. Unable to settle down to any profession, he began writing verse. The disposition to sentimental melancholy inherited from his mother, stimulated by disappointments in love and by the prevailing fashion of the romantic school of poetry, descended into gloom after his mother's death in 1829.

Soon afterwards, however, a legacy from his grandmother enabled him to devote himself wholly to poetry. His first published poems appeared in 1827, in Johann Gabriel Seidl's Aurora. In 1831 he moved to Stuttgart, where he published a volume of Gedichte (1832) dedicated to the Swabian poet, Gustav Schwab. He also made the acquaintance of Ludwig Uhland, Justinus Kerner, Karl Mayer and others. His restless spirit longed for change, and he determined to seek peace and freedom in America.

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